Integration Of Unmanned Aircraft Systems And Next Generation Air Transportation

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[Integration of Unmanned Aircraft Systems and Next Generation Air Transportation]



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Commercial interest for unmanned aircraft systems (UASs) has seen a steady increase over the last decade. Nevertheless, UAS operations have remained almost exclusively military. This is mainly due to the lack of a regulatory framework that allows only limited public and civil UAS operations with usually crippling restrictions. Although efforts from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and its partners are already underway to integrate UAS in the National Airspace System (NAS), the appropriate regulation will not be ready for several more years. In the meantime UAS developers need to be aware of the current operational restrictions, as well as make informed decisions on their research and development efforts so that their designs will be airworthy when the regulatory framework is in place. This paper aims to present an overview of current aviation regulation followed by an investigation of issues and factors that will affect future regulation.

Chapter I : Introduction

Background of the Problem

The integration of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) into the National Airspace System (NAS) is an integral part of the planning and implementation of Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen), the multi-disciplinary effort that will offer a host of air transportation operational, technical, economical, and environmental advantages. The growing demands to allow UAS routine access to the NAS are highly constrained and current solutions do not scale to meet expected demands or adequately address all UAS mission needs. Many NextGen automation systems are being designed without support for heterogeneous airspace of both manned and unmanned aircraft; a vision of shareholders investing in both advances.

Routine UAS access to the national airspace system poses a variety of technological, regulatory, workload, and coordination challenges. Technological challenges include developing a capability for UAS to detect, sense, and avoid other aircraft; addressing communications and physical security vulnerabilities; improving UAS reliability; and improving human factors consideration in UAS design. A lack of regulations for UAS limits their operations and leads to a lack of airspace for UAS testing and evaluation and a lack of data that would aid in setting standards. Increased workload would stem from FAA's expectation of increased demand for UAS operations in the national airspace system without a regulatory framework in place. In addition, coordination of efforts is lacking among diverse federal agencies as well as academia and the private sector in moving UAS toward meeting the safety requirements of the national airspace system. Although research, development, and testing of sense and avoid technologies has been ongoing for several years, no suitable technology has been identified that would ...